AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue
#2 (January 19, 2006)
Master Layouts in ArchiCAD's PlotMaker
Architectural Modeling Consultant, AEC Infosystems,
PlotMaker is the layout composition
portion of the ArchiCAD application suite. It
helps you bring a variety of content together,
compose its organization on a page, and manage
the pages in a layout book.
One way that PlotMaker helps
you is with the automation of repetitive or tedious
tasks. For example, repetitive elements such as
the title block and sheet border can be added
automatically to each new page, as the book grows.
In order to make this feature a truly powerful
one, PlotMaker can automate the variations to
this repetitive content, based on your standards
for nomenclature and organization. This logic
can be flexibly applied at the drawing, sheet,
and book levels.
One tool for this automation is the "master
layout." In order to understand where master
layouts fit in the scheme of your layout book,
let's first look at the way a PlotMaker
layout book is structured.
We can have as many layouts as we want in the
book and each layout references a master layout
of your choice.
Title types are automatic drawing titles that
can display the drawing number, drawing tile,
drawing scale, etc.
To modify the settings for any of the above items,
just right-click on its icon and choose Master
Layout Settings. (Note that you can also
create a new master layout this way.)
The Master Layout Settings dialog
is shown next.
In Step 2 above, we can optimize the master layout
for printing or plotting, but if we choose to
print, the process of getting hard copy and PDFs
will be similar to that in other common office
applications. Besides, most "plotters"
are actually just big printers, but most common
office printers cannot pose as plotters.
The minimum margins of your printer or plotter
are automatically read from the driver, so it
is easy to draw border lines at known distances
from the edges of the paper while seeing that
they fit within your device's printable area.
Layouts with details may benefit from an automatic
drawing grid. The grid will automatically inform
the drawing titles what their drawing number should
be. These will, in turn, inform all the drawing
references in the rest of the book as to the current
detail number and layout number.
What you draw on the master layout is up to you.
Typically, you will draw a border and title block.
Text in a master layout can be either static
or populated from the drawing or project information.
Static text might include "Sheet __ of __"
or your company name. Populated text includes
numbering, names and project info.
PlotMaker has the ability to
add AutoText, which is a system
by which it uses information in each layout, drawing,
or subset, and displays that information on that
sheet. For example, if a subset is called "Plans"
and a layout in it is called "First Floor,"
the AutoText can be set to take
that information and place it on the layout sheet.
To add AutoText, first make
sure you are on the Master Layout
and in the Text tool.
The choices in the Insert AutoText
popup list are divided into four sections, top
1. Layout and Subset Names and Numbers
2. Layout and Layout book file information
3. Current Time
4. Book Info (Under the Book menu)
After the AutoText is selected,
the Master layout properly displays
what has been chosen.
Left-licking outside of the box reveals that
the text is not yet defined. This is because the
value is based upon information in the layout,
not the master.
When any layout is double-clicked, the correct
information will appear in the textbox. The default
setting is to have the master information grayed
out on each layout. This can be changed by going
to the Options menu, then Preferences,
then Miscellaneous: "Color
of Master Items on the Layout"
The LAYOUTNUMBER variable is
controlled by the subset and layout settings.
Right-click on any layout or subset in the Navigator
and select Layout or Subset
Settings from the bottom of the list,
to open one of these dialog boxes.
Remember, different master layouts can have different
information. For example, if a consultant's logo
is needed on a few sheets and nothing else will
change, make a copy of one of the master layouts,
one with the logo and one without. Sometimes a
blank master is needed for a cover sheet only.
With a good set of master layouts, a company
template can efficiently automate the layout book
from the first preliminary design set to the final
record documentation set. The key point is that
we are harnessing the computer to do the part
that is least interesting, and probably the most
About the Author
Ratcliff has been working with virtual building
concepts at AEC Infosystems since 1997. He has
been using the virtual building model to produce
construction documents for residential and commercial
buildings since 1996. His interest in architecture
and computers is tempered by his four years experience
as a general contractor. He has a BA in Government
& Politics and BS in Architecture from the
University of Maryland.
Tricks > Master Layouts in ArchiCAD's
PlotMaker > Printer-friendly